A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab – A Book Review



Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…

Author: V. E. Schwab

Publisher: Titan Books

Pages: 401

Release Date: 20/02/2015

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US



A Darker Shade of Magic is, for me, one of those strange books that feels like it’s a YA book that is trying to be more of a book for adults but falling short and ending up somewhere in the middle. The overall story feels very YA yet, every time I found myself thinking that, I would be smacked in the face by something too dark to be classed as YA. Yet that darkness only really lasted for a handful of pages and then the YA feeling came back.

That being said, I still really enjoyed the book. I liked Kell and the whole Antari magic as a whole and I liked the character of Lila Bard and how the dynamic between her and Kell worked. The writing itself was strong and enjoyable to read and the imagery flitted between very visual and vivid and falling slightly short of that vividness I had come to expect from the book.

The idea of there being multiple worlds, each one having a London and each one having various degrees of magic in their world, was very appealing to me. One thing that stood out as an excellent part of the book were the more simple things. Whether it was the power points that existed in each world and shared the same location as it does in other worlds, or whether it was something as simple as Kell’s coat of unlimited sides.

Just from the opening few chapters you can tell the author has put a lot of thought into her world/s and the ways in which each are so vastly different, yet at the same time feeling closer than I just made it sound, are a wonderful touch to the book as a whole.

I wasn’t overly fond of the villain (I won’t mention the antagonist’s name as I don’t want to spoil anything if I can help it) and every scene said villain was in just felt kind of like watching a pantomime villain. Admittedly, there were some incredibly dark and bloody moments, but parts often felt overly theatrical when it came to Kell combatting the various bad guys and gals. I think it is this that made me think it didn’t really know what age group it was aiming itself at. Not that either age group would be a problem where this particular novel is concerned, I just kind of wish it had settled on YA or not YA.

That slight negative aside, the book is an enjoyable read and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy and wants something a little different. Especially if they are tired of the same old magic systems and wants one that is very different.

10 thoughts on “A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab – A Book Review

  1. Hah, a nice coincidence – I just finished this book as well and had similar feeling of – how to put it – lack of internal cohesion with regards to the overall mood? I felt as if it tried to have this fairly tale vibe but failed. Still, it was pleasant enough (especially compared to Nevernight, which I did not appreciate at all ;)) Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll have to try this. I have a love/hate relationship with YA. In that I either really love it or really hate it. This sounds like it could be good though, other than the villain bits. I love a good villain. I don’t love cartoons and caricatures of villains.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do get you comment about the target age not being clear… I’ve always seen it as YA, but there are darker bits where things definitely crossed the border to adult. I’m a bit biased when it comes to Schwab’s work though, as she’s one of my favorite authors. 😉 Fab review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 She is certainly talented. I’ll be getting the next book in the series when I get through my current pile. I am very curious what happens to Kell, Lila and how the mark that links Kell and the prince plays into things.

      Liked by 1 person

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